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The strict definition of an operating system limits it to only the basic program which runs the computer and provides systems calls to the users' programs. Usually the command interpreter or shell is not considered part of the operating system. But without the shell, which executes users' commands and programs, and is the primary interface between the computer and the user, a computer would be virtually impossible to use.

The basic function of a shell is to allow users to execute programs. Many advanced shells though have features which allow writing of scripts, command-line completion and command-line histories.

Mark O. Stitson
Wed Sep 25 10:45:32 BST 1996